Romans Chapter 03

Romans 3:1 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?

Having spent the entire last chapter explaining that there is no difference between Gentile and Jew in the church, Paul now turns the tables to tell the advantages of the Jew. The question raised is, since physical circumcision and uncircumcision make no difference, what advantage does the Jew have, if any? What is the benefit of being circumcised?

Romans 3:2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

There are plenty of advantages to being a Jew. The most obvious advantage to them was the giving of God’s law to them. The oracles of God are defined as the utterances of God. Oracle shares an etymological root with the Latin, os (or oris), meaning mouth. The word comes from the Latin oraculum, which literally means mouthpiece or saying. The Greek word rendered oracle has a similar construct, though not exact. The Greek is λογια, logia, meaning a declaration of God. It is based upon λογος, logos, or word.

Since the word oracle has something to do with the mouth, so λογια has something to do with words. The oracles or utterances of God include all of the Law, the Prophets, the Writings, and Psalms. In other words the utterances of God include all of the Scriptures. We can also justifiably include the instructions given as to the preservation of the Scriptures, such as the Massorah. Not included would be the Targums or any other commentary upon the Scriptures. Those were not the utterances of God (nor are these comments you are reading the utterances of God), but the utterances of man. To the Jews, or the Israelites as they were known before the Captivity, were given all of these utterances. Yet they did not fully grasp their significance. As we shall see, they did not recognize the truth about their coming Messiah. Yet there was a distinct advantage to their reception of the gift of the utterances of God.

Romans 3:3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

It will help to understand the phrase, “the faith of God”, if we read it like this, “the faithfulness of God.” Just because some of the Israelites did not believe does not mean that all did not believe. And the unbelief of some will not affect or negate God’s faithfulness. What faithfulness? God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). God is faithful to His oracles, His promises, etc. Just because some do not believe does not affect what God has said or done. He will still provide forgiveness to those who believe on His Son.

Romans 3:4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

Of course the phrase “God forbid” is not a literal translation. The KJV is usually quite literal, but here the translators used a colloquialism to render μη γενοιτο, me genoito, which literally means “let it not be”. However, it is emphatic and is more accurately understood as “absolutely not!” God forbid is certainly emphatic.

Even if every single person on earth were a liar, God would not be. Quite frankly, every person on earth is a liar. I daresay that all people have uttered at least one lie in their lives, making us all liars. God remains true no matter what the circumstances. He will always be faithful to His word.

The quote is from Psalm 51:4 (Septuagint, Brenton Translation): “Against thee only have I sinned, and done evil before thee: that thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” God is faithful and true and changeless. He is trustworthy, therefore His judgments will be justified on judgment day. When the judged (the people being judged by God in Christ at the Great White Throne) judge (consider, or decide whether their judge is right) their judge (God in Christ at the Great White Throne), they will discover that, because of His truthfulness and faithfulness, He is righteous and they are wrong. God is true and all people are liars (see Psalm 116:11).

Romans 3:5-6 But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? I (speak as a man) (6) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?

To help us understand the word “commend” here, let us look at the military commendation medal. When a military person is given a commendation medal it indicates that the person stands out in certain areas when compared to the other members of his or her unit. A soldier, sailor, airman, marine, or coastguardsman might have better skills at gunnery, or better attention to the details of his job than others, or better military bearing than others, etc., and may be commended for that.

Paul is attempting to speak with the understanding of men. He wants men to understand his words. The unrighteousness of mankind illustrates the righteousness of God. There is no person righteous, no not one. Thus God, who is wholly righteous, for there in no unrighteousness in Him, stands out or shines when compared to unrighteous mankind. When God, Who is completely righteous, judges unrighteous people, does He become unrighteous Himself because he takes vengeance on unrighteous mankind? Absolutely not! If God became unrighteous when He pronounced judgment on the guilty, then, as unrighteous, He would no longer have the right to judge. If that were the case, how could God be the judge of any?

Romans 3:7 For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?

Since our being liars has commended the truth of God, should not we be given a break? Since our sinfulness shows the Glory of God more clearly, why dies He not wink at our sins? After all, it was our sin that illustrated the Glory of God. Should not God give us credit for that and declare us not guilty?

Romans 3:8 And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.

Along the same lines as the previous verse, should we not do even more evil to show the goodness of God? Apparently some in Paul’s day suggested that he taught that. Is not our damnation just? If it is just and it is because of our sin, then should not we wax more and more evil to make the Glory of God more and more prominent?

Romans 3:9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;

Paul was a Jew, a Hebrew of Hebrews. Are Paul’s people, who are Jews, better than others? No for we are all sinners, Jew and Gentile alike. Paul may also be saying “Are we Christians better than Jews?” The answer is no. A Christian’s sins are forgiven but Christians, like all others, were sinners before they were forgiven, and still have that sinful nature, otherwise known as the flesh. All are under sin, that is, all have the sinful nature. Paul now quotes scriptures to prove his analyses:

Romans 3:10-12 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (11) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (12) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Psalm 14:1-3, 53:1-3. For a greater understanding of this passage, see the study entitled Filthy Rags. These passages simply tell us that all men, women, and children are sinners. Each and every human being on the planet is a person of unrighteousness. Not one thing a person does is righteous. Every act is unrighteous. Even those things considered by other humans to be good works are unrighteous. Things like caring for the poor, keeping the environment clean, taking care of our children, caring for the elderly, feeding the hungry, etc., are all unrighteous. These things in themselves are good things. In fact we are commanded by God to do such things. Nevertheless, when done by sinful mankind, they are unrighteous in the eyes of God.

Why is this so? It is so because we humans, as a matter of course, have no understanding of the things of God. In the Psalm, God looked down from Heaven into the hearts of every man on earth and found that not one really understood that God is Who He is, or that God created them and everything around them, or that God took care of them. Thus, willfully not understanding these things, they simply were indifferent to Him and did not seek after Him because of their lack of understanding. It is not that we cannot understand; it is because we do not want to understand. God found not one person on the entire earth that sought Him.

This is still the case today. No man, no not one, understands about God and not one seeks after Him. At least they do not do so of their own volition. As the Lord said in John 6:44, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him“. God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, must draw men to Christ. They will never go there on their own. That is why a Christian, despite his good intentions, will never be able to argue a non-believer into becoming a believer. The non-believer does not have the understanding of God, nor does he seek God. A human argument, no matter how convincing, will never convince an unbeliever to become a believer unless the unbeliever is influenced by the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit is leading the unbeliever, then the exhortation of a witnessing Christian may cause the unbeliever to believe. If the Spirit is not leading the unbeliever, then no amount of argument will cause him to believe.

Every human being, because of the flesh, which is the sinful nature, has turned away from God. They are unprofitable because God cannot use them in His kingdom. Their sin and unbelief renders them useless as subjects of the Kingdom of God. All have sinned. All have fallen short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:13 Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

Psalm 5:9, Psalm 140:3. Jesus referred to a sepulcher when He spoke to the Pharisees and scribes. He told them that they were like freshly painted or whitewashed sepulchers. On the outside these tombs were beautiful edifices that added beauty to their surroundings. Yet inside were dead men’s remains: bones, dust, dried and blackened skin, hair, etc. These remains were not clean; indeed, they were unsanitary and that is why they were enclosed in tombs. Those Pharisees and scribes looked good on the outside, but on the inside they were full of sin and corruption as were those painted tombs full of dean men’s bones.

The enemies of God speak with flattering and lying lips. What they say sounds good, but is actually like an open tomb where the uncleanness inside gets out. If a tomb is opened, the stench of the decaying flesh, which is usually contained inside the tomb, is allowed to escape. Those nearby will be disturbed by the stench, for the smell of decaying flesh is very potent and reeks horribly. The speech of the world is like the stench of an open tomb. It is bad and has no redeeming value. The world is full of lies and hypocrisy. Its speech, though it may sound good on the surface, is actually ungodly. Their speech is as though there were deadly poison under their tongues. Their speech leads many astray. The world is opposed to God and thus its speech is also opposed. The world will do all that it can to turn men against God.

Romans 3:14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

Psalm 10:7. This is a continuation of the thought in the last verse. Since the poison of asps is under their tongue, their mouths can only spew poisonous speech, which is full of invective, cursing, and bitterness. Not only four letter expletives, but curses such as “I wish him dead”, etc. Note that, with the world, all things that God deems good are called evil. The world is bitter towards God, utterly rejecting Him.

Romans 3:15-18 Their feet are swift to shed blood: (16) Destruction and misery are in their ways: (17) And the way of peace have they not known: (16) There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Isaiah 59:7-8 and Psalm 36:1. The world is quick to judge, to condemn, to torture, to maim, and to murder. Since there is no peace known by the world, only destruction and misery follow. These things are so because they foolishly reject God and have no fear of Him. However, there is coming a time when they will respect God. At judgment they will respect and fear Him but will have no plea. He will cast them into the lake of fire unless they repent in this life. All of these verses were quoted in support of Paul’s claim that all are equally sinful, both the Jew and the Gentile.

Romans Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Having thoroughly discussed the unrighteousness of mankind, and the unfitness of people to become subjects in the kingdom of God, Paul now turns to the law. Those under the law (and that necessarily means the Jews, because it was to Israel that God gave the law) were just as sinful as those who were not under the law. This was because no one was able to obey the law in every word, jot, and tittle. To disobey one aspect of the law was to disobey the law in its entirety because one transgression of the law separated a person from God. Once separated from God there was no hope of salvation. Therefore to obey the remainder of the law after one transgression was futile, for that would not bring you back into God’s presence. Once disobedience to one part of the law occurred, the transgressor was eternally separated from God and could not come back into His presence no matter how strictly he obeyed the remainder of the law. That is why God provided a sacrificial system for Israel. Knowing that they could never entirely obey the law, God allowed them to sacrifice living animals as temporary compensation for their transgressions of the law.

Since the Gentiles had their own laws and were a law unto themselves, they also transgressed the law. Their law was similar in nature to the Law of Moses (see Romans 2:14 and notes). So the Gentiles were, in a way, subject to the law-to their law. They broke their own law just as the Jews broke the Law of Moses. Thus all men, women, and children were transgressors or the law, both Jew and Gentile. To the Jew there were only two types of person, the Jew and the non-Jew, or Gentile; there were no other groups. The world was made up of Jews and Gentiles, period. Paul says that both Jews and Gentiles were law breakers. No mouth has any plea. No one can say he or she is not guilty of transgression of the law, for all are. There is not one person who has kept the law. All are guilty before God of transgression of the law.

Romans Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Just as no one is righteous before God, so no one is justified by observing the deeds of the law. Man’s righteousness cannot save him because he is not really righteous. Man’s obedience to the law cannot save him because no man has observed the entire law. Because of the law, we know we have sinned. The law is the great revealer of sin. Men cannot claim to be saved because they are righteous and no man can be saved because he has observed the law. Therefore, no flesh whatsoever can be justified (found not guilty) in God’s sight. All are guilty. None are just. Mankind, then, is without hope if they have to rely upon themselves to either be righteous or to obey the law. Men cannot cut it either way. No one is righteous, and no one has obeyed or will obey the entire law.

Romans Romans 3:21-22 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; (22) Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

A way to have the righteousness of God without obedience to the law has become apparent. That Way was set forth by the scriptures and by the prophets. The entire Old Testament is a prophetic testament of Christ. The law foreshadowed the Christ and the prophets foretold the coming of the Christ. The righteousness of God comes to us through our faith in Jesus Christ. When we become saved by the blood of Jesus, we receive justification from our sins and are declared righteous. All who believe have this righteousness. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile in Christ. We are all the same, that is, we are all saved by the blood of Christ and not by our own righteousness or obedience to the law.

Romans Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

There are no exceptions. Every man woman and child on the earth has sinned. Sin causes us to fall short of God’s glory and thus separates us from God forever.

Romans Romans 3:24-25 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Because of our faith is Christ, and because of the grace of God, we have the free gift of justification. Jesus Christ has paid our penalty and has redeemed us from death. Through His act on Calvary, that is, the sacrifice of a perfect and sinless victim, Christ has redeemed us from our sins. God foreordained and sent Him to earth to die for our sins. He shed His precious blood for us on the cross. That appeased God’s demand for justice, which would have resulted in our death and our eternal separation from God. When Christ died on the cross, He satisfied God’s requirement that blood be shed for the atonement of sin. In other words, Jesus Christ took our place on the cross. We should have died for our own sins, but Christ took our place and died for us. He took our punishment, thereby satisfying God’s demand that our blood be shed. To propitiate means to satisfy or appease a requirement. Christ satisfied the requirement that death is the wages of sin.

God ordained that His Son, Jesus Christ, to appease His requirement for blood by shedding His own blood. Thus God proved His own righteousness. Had God not required just punishment for sins and transgressions, he would not have been reliable. He set forth the law and set forth the punishment for disobedience to the law. Had he allowed sinners to go free without punishment, He would have made a mockery of the law and of Himself. Because His Son suffered for our sins, God, by accepting the sufferings of Christ as propitiation, retained His integrity and is therefore righteous in His judgments. The sacrifice made by Christ is therefore acceptable for the remission or pardon of our sins. God’s forbearance is the patience He shows by not immediately punishing us for our sins. He is longsuffering and does not wish for any person to perish. He wishes for all to be saved. Hence, He is patient with us thereby allowing us the opportunity to be saved by the blood of Christ.

Romans Romans 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Again, the propitiation that Christ became declares that God is righteous and just because He required atonement for our sins. He did not just pardon our sins without any requirement. That would have gone against His requirement that atonement be made for sins. Thus He would have not been truthful, of just or righteous. Being God, it is impossible for Him to be untruthful, unjust, or unrighteous. Consequently, atonement was required and Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary provided that atonement proving God to be just and righteous. Paul repeats himself here. In the previous verse Paul said that God sent His Son to declare His righteousness. He repeats it here and that means it is important. God is righteous and just because He required atonement. The world says it is unjust that God would require propitiation for its sins. The world believes that God should just shrug off its sins. To the world that would be just and righteous. But the world’s wisdom is folly with God. If God had followed the world’s thinking, He really would be unjust and unrighteous. But, thankfully, He did require a sacrifice and is therefore a righteous and just God. Because God is just, He may rightfully justify (declare “not guilty”) those that believe on Christ.

Romans Romans 3:27-28 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. (28) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

There is no boasting. Since all have sinned and since no one is righteous and since no one is justified by his obedience to the law, how can we boast? Those are the only avenues we have to salvation. We either do righteous works with no unrighteousness, or adhere to the entire law without exception, or live our entire life without sin. Not one of those things in humanly possible. Since they are impossible, we have nothing to boast about. Since we cannot do the impossible, which is to live a sinless life, then we must be justified by something other that our own sinlessness. That “something other” is our faith in Christ. We are justified by our faith in Christ apart from our own works and apart from perfect obedience of the law.

Romans Romans 3:29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:

He is the God of all; not just of the Jews, as they supposed, but of the non-Jews as well.

Romans Romans 3:30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

I may be justified by my faith and I may be justified through my faith. I can state it either way and it means the same thing. There is no difference in these two statements except the choice of words. Do not read anything else into these words. The circumcised, that is, the Jew, and the uncircumcised, that is, the Gentile, are both justified because of their faith in Christ. There is no other way (John 14:6).

Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

The law has not been done away in this age of grace as some have suggested. Paul assertively affirms that by saying “Absolutely not!” Because of the sufferings of Christ at the hand of the law (for His sufferings provided justification to us, who broke the law), the law was preserved. Had God pardoned us without meeting the demands of the law, He would not have been righteous and just. Because God demanded that the requirements of the law be executed, he is righteous and just. Thus the just demands of the law were met by the sufferings of Christ thereby establishing, or upholding the law. Christ’s sacrifice upheld the law and our faith in Christ makes us proxies in that upholding to the law.

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